The case of Navtej Singh Johar & Others v. Union of India, decided in 2018 by the Supreme Court of India, is a landmark judgment that decriminalized consensual homosexual acts among adults. This decision was a significant step in the fight for LGBTQ rights in India.
- The petition was filed by Navtej Singh Johar and others challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."
- Section 377, a colonial-era law, had long been criticised for violating the rights of LGBTQ individuals by criminalising consensual same-sex relationships.
The key legal issues revolved around whether Section 377 IPC:
- Violated the fundamental rights of equality, non-discrimination, privacy, dignity, and freedom of expression.
- Was vague and archaic, thus not suitable for the current societal context.
Supreme Court Judgment:
- The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Section 377 IPC, insofar as it criminalised consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex, was unconstitutional.
- The Court held that the section violated the fundamental right to privacy, dignity, freedom of expression, and equality.
- It was observed that sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy, and discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.
- The Court declared that LGBTQ persons deserve to live a life unshackled from the shadow of being 'unapprehended felons.'
Significance of the Judgment:
1. Decriminalization of Homosexuality: The ruling decriminalized consensual homosexual acts among adults, effectively recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ community.
2. Recognition of Privacy and Autonomy: The judgement reinforced the right to privacy and individual autonomy, acknowledging sexual orientation as an essential aspect of privacy.
3. Advancing LGBTQ Rights: This judgement was a significant step forward in the fight for LGBTQ rights in India, contributing to the global movement for equality and non-discrimination.
4. Changing Social Norms: The decision was hailed as progressive, reflecting a change in societal attitudes and understanding of sexual orientation.
Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India represents a pivotal moment in the advancement of human rights in India. It was not only a legal victory but also a social and moral triumph, contributing to the broader struggle for equality and dignity for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.
For more detailed information on this case, you can refer to sources such as [Indian Kanoon](https://indiankanoon.org/doc/168671806/) or academic articles that analyze its impact on Indian society and law.